When Basil Yousef, a Palestinian came to Delhi in 1996, he was just out of school. But even at that young age he had made his plans. He had come to Delhi to complete his higher studies, after which he wanted to go back home to Hebron, a city located south of Jerusalem.
But fate had other plans for him. While he was completing his graduation from Deshbandhu College, disturbance started in his hometown. The situation deteriorated further and Yousef had to extend his stay in Delhi. In the meantime, he started a small business to make a living. It was during this time he met Samah, a young Manipuri girl, fell in love and eventually married her in 2005.
The birth of their two daughters — Zahin (age 2) and Nermin (1) — completed the family picture. Delhi has ended up being Yousef’s second home. So much so that Yousef says that when he goes to Hebron now, he feels like a foreigner.
“I was born there. My parents still live there. But I feel like that probably because I’ve become so used to Delhi,” he says. Though Yousef has settled in Delhi as for now, he says that eventually when things improve back home, he wants to go back to his parents with his family. “I had not planned it like this. I never thought I would settle here. But now I have become attached to this place,” says Yousef. His wife attributes a part of this attachment to his love for Indian food and the numerous friends he has made here. In the Yousef household, Hindi has become the common language of communication at home.
“My eldest daughter does not know Arabic but is fluent in Hindi,” says Yousef. His wife, Samah chips in. “I tried teaching Manipuri to my husband but gave up. We decided that we would speak Hindi at home. It will be much easier for the children. Though he has become familiar with some of the Manipuri culture with Hindi is what binds him with my family.” she says.